Posted By Jonathan on September 9, 2012
Note: This woodchuck was humanely relocated to a local wildlife refuge. He is more happy now than he was under my chicken coop.
One of the most important aspects of supplying your own with your own home-grown food, is protecting that food from anything that shouldn’t be getting it, whether that’s insect, animal or human. Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with the latter of those three, but I can safely say I have dealt with the first two.
For the past month, we have had an unwelcome resident living under our vacant chicken coop…a very large male woodchuck, and now we learned, his smaller female companion. About 6 months ago, I caught and relocated a smaller woodchuck, from the same den. I should have learned my lesson, and destroyed the den back then, because this couple was determined to make it their winter home.
Woodchucks, which are also called groundhogs, are the largest member of the squirrel family…and rightly so. They look, and act just like squirrels. They can even climb trees if they’d like, but more often will stay close to their den. This den is most typically located near a food supply. The supply, in this case, was the multi-thousand apple supply that our apple trees produced this summer.
Because these woodchucks had access to such an abundant food supply, they were in no way hurting for food. Normally, to catch an animal, you would lure it into a trap, like the one below. However, since he had a lot of food, he wouldn’t go into the trap to get the food I was putting out for him! He just waddled by the trap, no matter if I put out leafy greens, old squash or even apples from our trees.
Something more sophisticated was needed.
So, since I am not the fastest or strongest animal in the world, I resorted to using the one thing that actually does make me the top predator on Earth – my intelligence. I decided to construct an elborate trap that the woodchuck would have no choice whether to enter or not.
Here’s how you can build it, if you need to.
Start by gathering the tools and materials you will need. My list included a tape measure, a pencil, a box cutter and a good amount of cardboard, that is at least 4 feet in length.
Next, you will need to create a tunnel, of sorts, out of the cardboard, so that it will fit nicely around the animal trap that you are using. Something like what you see below.
Essentially the idea here, is to funnel the animal into the trap, creating an extension of his den tunnel, that includes your trap along the way. Once you get the tunnel/trap constructed, you need to place it in front of one of the den tunnels that the animal has constructed. This way, he will walk right into it when he walks out.
To make the trap more sturdy, you can place bricks or concrete blocks at key places around the trap, as shown below.
Note: You want as much sunlight shining through your tunnel as possible, so the animal thinks it is a way out of his den. I ended up cutting some of the cardboard back from the top of the trap.
The last step consists of sealing up the rest of the tunnels that the animal has built, thus making it impossible for him to get out any other way than via your trap. When you have sealed all other tunnels, he will only be able to see the light coming from behind your tunnel/trap, and will think he can get out that way. Then he’ll walk right into the trap.
I used more concrete blocks to block of the rest of the den tunnels, which there turned out to be 4 of! Also, this stubborn woodchuck decided to dig around the block, making a bigger hole, (thus requiring more blocking, on my part) before he finally got tired of digging and walked into the trap.
So after over a month of frustration, and thankfully, a fully intact garden, the fruits of my labor finally came about. He is safely living in a state park now, instead of somewhere he shouldn’t be.
I have never encountered a smarter animal, and am glad to say I’m smarter than it.